We spoke with collage artist Raven Skye McDonough about her fascinating process and portfolio.
ABI: Tell us about your collage technique and what makes it different.
RSM: A little background on my artistic journey so far. My first “love” was drawing and working with pastels when I was a teenager. I transitioned to paints; both oils and acrylic during high school and while in art school and afterwards, considered myself a painter.
To keep myself challenged, I love to experiment and try new mediums. One day back in 2008, I took a one day watercolor and collage workshop with Bill Earnshaw of Bedford, NH and fell in love with incorporating paper into my work. It wasn’t long before I started covering all the watercolor painting with many layers of paper and the new style of Paper Mosaic Collage was born!
Another way of explaining this technique is to say I “paint with paper” to create the image. This is very different from traditional collage which uses images (usually from magazines or photographs). The traditional collage artist then cuts up the images and reassembles them in a new way to create a totally new image.
ABI: What would you say are the biggest inspirations for your work?
RSM: The inspiration behind my art first came from my love of nature and wildlife. Because of my love for all animals, my dream was to be a veterinarian or an artist growing up. This is the reason you can find all kinds of critters and birds in my artwork.
With my relocation from New Hampshire to Florida in 2010, I have found inspiration with time spent exploring the Florida landscape, rivers, and the waters of the Gulf. Photographing and watching the amazing array of tropical birds has influenced some very vibrant pieces.
With that said, I have created my share of what I call “pretty pictures” over the years of flowers and landscapes; which are lovely to look at but don’t really tell a story or raise awareness about social or environmental issues. I read somewhere recently that “not all art is inspired by beauty” and I totally agree.
My current inspirations are drawn from my nightly dreams, the over development of natural habitat for wildlife to live and prosper, the vanishing middle class in America, challenges facing women, minorities and the homeless to name a few.
ABI: Being a professional artist can be challenging, and some people may believe it is a hobby. How do you respond to this?
RSM: My first response would be to follow me around for a day to see all the time, energy, money (good art supplies are expensive) and commitment I have to my art! When relocating to Florida from New England, our main search criteria was for a studio space with a house attached to it.
To be a professional artist vs hobbyist, I have had to make lifestyle sacrifices. What most folks don’t know or understand, is unless you are one of the 1% of all artists that hit it big, it’s a very difficult path to follow (and to make a good living) especially with so many talented artists in the world. Also being a woman, I have to work even harder and smarter, due to women artists still having fewer opportunities (exhibition, residency, lecture, publication) than men.